Imagi, the studio behind the recent CG Astro Boy film, laid off more than 300 employees on Friday. This comes after a 100-employee layoff back in December and the closing of their L.A. office just a couple of weeks ago, but supposedly these are "short-term" layoffs while the company keeps trying to find new investors to fund its projects.
This isn't the first time Imagi has resorted to sudden dramatic moves to deal with a cash crunch: during the development of Astro Boy almost a year ago today, Imagi actually shut down its studios for a couple of days until it got a cash injection. Unfortunately I don't think anything is definitively pending at the moment, so here's hoping that Imagi gets some more money soon-- I enjoyed their Astro Boy and would like to see their planned Gatchaman film. The only problem is, if Astro Boy didn't make up its money, can the follow-up?
See, Astro Boy had a reported budget of $65 million, but so far has made less than $25 mil. Sure, it might make up some of that in the DVD market (it's due out on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 16th), but probably not $40 million, short of some kind of viral catch-on. That's a big loss for a young company. So basically the company has to convince investors that Gatchaman will not only turn a profit, but probably turn enough profit to make up for Astro Boy's losses.
Which is really a shame. I'm going to say again that while Astro Boy was definitely no Up, it was a pretty enjoyable film. When it comes out, I'd suggest going ahead and spending a few bucks to rent it, especially if you have a kid sibling or cousin to share it with.
...And not just because I want to see Gatchaman. I swear.